Offer uncomfortable tours

of Monument Avenue

Editor, Times-Dispatch:

For some time now, I have listened and read about all the reasons we should remove the statues on Monument Avenue, change school names and revise history. To encourage the destruction, the new Virginia legislature passed a bill that would allow localities to decide the fate of war memorials.

Before taking any drastic action, I recommend a review of page E12 in the Culture section of the RTD from Sunday, March 15. This article reveals that the U.S. is not the only country with monuments to heroes who do not shine brightly in current times. It appears Oxford, England, recognizes it has many monuments to those with a past history linked to slavery, racism or colonial abuses. For example, the wealthy benefactor of the famous Rhodes Scholarship program at Oxford University benefited from South African apartheid. However, rather than destroying history, the Brits use it to promote rational discussions that help deal with the disturbing parts of their past through their “Uncomfortable Oxford” tours.

The tour guides point out things that are designed to make participants feel uneasy. The directors say the intent is to provoke discussions in an “anti-shame and anti-blame” space. They encourage as many people as possible to share their experience and thoughts.

Perhaps before any emotion-driven, irreversible changes are made here, starting similar "uncomfortable tours" on Monument Avenue in Richmond and similar places needs to be considered.

Barbara Stansbury.

Waverly.

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